Having been through an eventful and in many ways challenging semester, I am quite proud to say that my fellow students as well as yours truly are all rooted deeply in transnational perspectives and new units of analysis for our historiographical perspectives. To celebrate this, I decided to also conclude my series of blog posts with my reflections on our projects, discussions, and MO3351 in general. I will be typing for a whole hour without pause so as to elevate this endeavour to somewhat ceremonial heights.
Without a doubt my favourite aspect of the module was how we – and Milinda in particular – shed light in unison on how Anglo-centric the global intellectual landscape has been for the majority of history, and how it still is to some extent. Many of my childhood and adolescent frustrations were articulated rather clearly insofar as to challenge the Anglo-Franco hegemony in academia, intellectual history, and standards for normalcy. Indeed, Russian, Hungarian, Indian, and Near Eastern intellectuals have been in correspondence and close connection with the likes of John Locke, and Francis Fukuyama for most of modernity. And in fact, these towering intellects were not remarkable despite being from Russia or India, but because of their unique perspectives and often scathing criticism of the Western ivory tower. In general, they were extraordinary scholars in their own right and regardless of their nationality. I would like to reiterate from Haitian scholar Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s point, with which I also started the semester: Different groups and individuals have unequal access to the means of the production of history, and as such, some voices are silenced in historiography. For the first time since I came to St Andrews, this was not a colourful detail or a touch of intellectual inclusivity, but rather the base foundation of the module – the solid rock, upon which we built the Holy Mother Church that was MO3351. For this, I am quite grateful.
Furthermore, I also took immense pleasure in sharing the transnational elements of Hungarian history with the community. Being a Hungarian Jew is a cornerstone of the way I see myself, and it is something I derive a great deal of resilience and motivation from. I am glad that I was given the opportunity during discussion and writing blog posts to share elements of this identity, and elaborate on its respective transnational implications.
While I wasn’t present in person at the first two meetings due to illness, I spent a great deal of time immersing myself in the foundational literature of transnational history, and thoroughly enjoyed familiarising myself with the terminology and building up this new perspective of mine. The reason I wanted to become a historian is that the writing of history transcends time and space. By telling a narrative of Caesar’s conquest of Gaul the historian gets to be in charge of facts and figures, making the duty to report them accurately all the more sacred. Thereby I found it quite fitting that the historiographic craft can also transcend the limitations of artificial borders, and thereby abolishing the nation-state as history’s basic unit of analysis.
I also gained a degree of insight to the intricate difference between international and transnational history. Though it took me a bunch of time and effort to be able to articulate this, but I came to the conclusion that international history deals with global affairs between nation-states, whereas its transnational counterpart abolishes the nation-state as its unit of analysis altogether, therefore dealing with global trends and patterns without the restrictions of borders. I found this endeavour to be a rather liberating one, as well as quite worthwhile at the same time.
Conversely, the project I decided to undertake throughout the semester also aided me greatly in my long-term research effort, opening new horizons in exploring the global perception of German generals of World War II. Not only did the dichotomy of the international/transnational scopes of writing history help me articulate my thoughts on the matter much more clearly, but it also directed me towards new research on the subject, which will also prove to be invaluable while I undertake my dissertation. What’s more, I always knew that there were major discrepancies about how we commemorate Germany’s involvement in World War II, but it was MO3351 that helped me see the very global – and indeed, transnational – problems that these warped perceptions can and do lead to. There is a thriving neo-Nazi community in Mongolia. I’ll just let that sink in and move on, as my time is short.
Lastly, I would like to thank my fellow students of transnational history for their awesome work throughout the semester, for which I am also rather grateful. For example, I never thought I would be interested in the transnational history of whaling. And yet, by the time Olivia rolled out with her long-form presentation on the subject, I found myself harbouring ravenous amounts of anticipation to find out more about the matter at hand. In addition, I also really enjoyed Jospeh’s YouTube video about the transnational history of Maoism, and Ana’s wonderful research project about Ibero-American feminism. This is not to say per se that the rest of my fellow students didn’t do a wonderful job. Quite the contrary! They did such a wonderful job, that I simply haven’t had the time to immerse myself in their work to the same degree as I did with those I mentioned above.
To sum up – as my Hour of Reflection is running out – I found MO3351 to be an extraordinarily refreshing and intellectually challenging module. As opposed to some of my other modules that failed to grip my investment, I found these challenges posed by MO3351 to be less gruelling, and derived much valour and perseverance from them for my university studies in general. I relished the class discussion both in person and on Microsoft Teams, and I found Bernhard and Milinda’s dedication to the subject truly admirable and something I look up to. I would like to thank all of you for an exhilarating semester.